Notify law or lift mining ban: SC

Notify law or lift mining ban: SC

Observing that the ban cannot be sustained indefinitely, an apex court Bench of justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik said the Karnataka government had taken a stand that it needed time to notify the rules on transportation before lifting the ban.
“The ban cannot be forever. You can stop illegal mining but the ban cannot stay forever,” the Bench said, adjourning the matter for hearing to the first week of February.

Observing that the ban on iron ore transportation was temporary and was originally imposed only for six months, the Bench asked the government not to extend it beyond January.

Remaining non-committal over the Supreme Court order, State Tourism Minister G Janardhan Reddy, replying to queries on the sidelines of a function in Dharwad, said he would first go through the order. Taking a critical stand on Governor H R Bharadwaj, Reddy said that the Governor was unnecessarily irritating the government even though the matter related to alleged land scam was in the court.

In this context, he said Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa has already launched a high-level probe, but Bhardwaj was demanding another enquiry of which there is no need.

The Karnataka government had banned transportation of iron ore for export purposes for six months pending a legislation to curb illegal mining. On November 19, 2010, the Karnataka High Court upheld the state government's blanket ban on the issuance of mineral dispatch permits.

Subsequently, mining firms Sesa Goa, MSPL and S B Minerals challenged the Karnataka High Court’s order in the Supreme Court. The Bench noted that if the government failed to notify the proposed Karnataka Prevention of Illegal Mining, Storage and Transportation Rules, 2010, it will have to make arrangements to allow the mining firms to export the ore. “If there is delay, the state government may formulate necessary regulatory measures for regulating, supervising and monitoring exports,” the Bench said.

The state government said it was awaiting the Lokayukta's final report on evolving ways and means to curb large scale irregularities by various mining firms.

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